Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University was created in 1987 as part of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. The goals of the Center have been to identify and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources as well as reducing negative environmental and social impacts. 

The Center is named for Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), a native of Burlington, Iowa, known internationally as a conservationist, ecologist, and educator. He saw the need for development of a land ethic, outlined in his 1949 book of essays, A Sand County Almanac.

Mark Rasmussen is the Leopold Center director.  A 17-member Advisory Board advises the director on policies, budget and program review.

 Completed Grants

Leopold Center News

May 9, 2018

The Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council recognized the Leopold Center for its significant contributions to funding grazing and forage research and education in Iowa over the last 20 years. The council honored the center earlier this year.

It periodically recognizes individuals or organizations promoting forages in Iowa and helping producers manage them.


April 25, 2018

For the past 17 years, we have been pleased to work with the Spencer family to present this award to deserving Iowans in agriculture. Many of the Spencer Award (nomination form) winners have been farmers who were shining examples of how to use a variety of conservation practices to make their land and operations more sustainable — and leave the land in great shape to pass on to their families.


Of Interest

Cover crops and manure. An article in the May 2018 newsletter of the Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation District highlights a soil health project supported by the Leopold Center. Read more

'Leopold Center Still Working for Iowa Farmers': An op-ed written by Daniel E. Lee, the Marian Taft Cannon Professor in the Humanities and director of the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics, Augustana College, appeared in the May 3, 2018, edition of the Rock Island Dispatch-Argus. Read more

Deadline June 16 for Spencer Nominations: Deadline for nominations for the 2018 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture is June 16, 2018. Nomination form